Reading aloud uses other parts of the brain, which is why many editors and writing resources suggest it as part of the final editing process. “Speaking text out loud mimics a conversation and enables the mind to pick up on anomalies and wrong word choices,” says fiction editor Tyler Tichelaar, Ph.D.
When speaking text out loud, the brain does not tend to autocorrect common mistakes as it does when reading words in silence. According to Writer’s Digest, reading aloud also gives the writer insight into how their readers will perceive and understand their work. If the written word offers a conversational tone, the information is better absorbed and accepted.
Sharee Chapman of the Tutoring Academy believes that reading aloud is the best way to gauge whether the writing is active and has a good flow and movement. If a reader stumbles upon a word, something may need to change. Improper punctuation becomes apparent by reading aloud. For example, commas depict a pause. Are they in the right place?
Reading aloud and how it uses other parts of the brain is best described by author Pam Munoz Ryan, who reads her work aloud to hear how it sounds. She can read her work silently and think it reads just fine, but when she hears it, she is often disappointed. In those early stages, she explains that the work is one giant ball of challenges: it is too wordy, lackluster, void of emotion, and so forth. Ryan said, “Reading the manuscript aloud and hearing it helps me sort it out, even before I send it to my editor, who gives me the direction to bring it to the next level.”
How does reading aloud improve your writing? As found by the University of North Carolina (UNC) College of Arts and Sciences Writing Center, speaking text enables people to listen to words. The proper order of ideas must make sense because listeners cannot scroll back through the text to piece together the intended thought or idea.
When words are spoken out loud, the writer can identify areas that need help, says Scholar Works. If the audible version seems choppy between one idea and another, it may need a smoother transition. Misspelled, omitted words, or poor punctuation causes the text to sound wrong when someone reads it out loud. Most of these errors can be undetectable when reading in silence. If a sentence is too long, it will sound winded when spoken out loud. When read aloud, words also invoke emotion on a different level than reading them in silence.
Scholar Works also suggests that readings are recorded and played back multiple times. This enables the ears to hear missed anomalies from the first pass. When the mouth is quiet, the ears can detect errors that the eyes subconsciously corrects. As the recording plays back, pay attention to the rhythm of the piece. Does the message flow? Do the sentences sound awkward or wordy?
Not only does reading aloud improve one’s writing skills, but it also offers other benefits as well, claims Chapman. Because audio, verbal, and visual parts of the brain function on various levels, reading aloud provides a multidimensional insight on how readers will perceive a written piece when reading it in silence.
Writer’s Digest suggests that there are multiple ways in which a reading can be recorded or heard. Most computers have built-in accessibility technology that will read text back to you using a synthesized voice. This type of audio can be hard to get used to but over time, it can become a valuable tool. Another idea is to record the reading using a device, such as a cell phone, a digital recorder, a tape recorder, or a program that records voice. If such technology is not available, another person can read the piece aloud.
Editing services can be expensive, yet it is a vital part of a story’s success. If hiring a professional editor is not in the budget, Writer’s Digest claims that reading out loud reveals many errors that the subconscious mind ignores. So, when it comes to creating the best possible copy, remember that reading aloud uses other parts of the brain, that offers a multidimensional insight into how readers respond to a piece.
Opinion by Rowena Portch
Edited by Cathy Milne
Scholar Works: Revising by Reading Aloud. What the Mouth and Ear Know
Writers Digest: Why Take the Time to Read Your Work Out Loud?
Sharee Chapman: Reading Aloud
UNC College of Arts and Sciences, Writing Center: Reading Aloud
Image Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons – Creative Commons License